1982:Flat Footed Ponies
Pale blue earth pony with lavender mane and tail, blue stars symbol
Bluebelle's release in the UK has been shrouded in mystery for a very long time. She appears on the box for Peachy's Grooming Parlour, and is named, so her sale here was without much doubt (especially since she exists on the second hand market!). However, the method of sale has always been a bit of a grey area.
I have now found the first clue to Bluebelle's sale provenance in the UK: Argos.
BLUEBELLE: ARGOS CATALOGUE (UK, 1984 Autumn/Winter)
Bluebelle is clearly pictured in the 1984 Autumn/Winter Argos catalogue, and is advertised as coming with a comb to groom her hair. Argos was also responsible for selling Snuzzle with various different things, so it is possible all Bluebelles were sold through Argos (though completely unproven). At the very least, this confirms that Bluebelle was on sale in the UK through official channels in 1984. Sadly, from the photo, it is not easy to tell what type of Bluebelle this is! Her colours are very vivid, but may have been edited for promotional purposes. It is also not clear whether she was sold on card or not. Her original sale price was £2.65.
A collector in the UK has contacted me and told me that she had CF Bluebelle as her first pony, and that she came on a card with a comb, ribbon and sticker. She was definitely sold in Europe on card, such as the one below - but these were made in Macau:
BLUEBELLE (MACAU): MINT ON GERMAN CARD
(Image courtesy of Babydoll)
The card is very similar (but not identical) to the US style of card, proving this style did come to Europe (but it is not certain if it came to the UK, nor whether the Macau manufacture spread here). Her symbols are also very dark, much like the images used in the promotional photo for Argos. All six ponies are shown on this card.(Thanks to Gizmo for the information about the US Flatfoot card).
Clearly Argos had some success with their sales, because Bluebelle was still on sale with Argos in the Spring/Summer of 1985, this time at £3.25. The text mentions a brush, but shows a comb (this time in a different colour). She is sold here as "Bluebell", which, I think, is the same spelling used in the Fact File (but not the same spelling that features on Peachy's UK box!)
BLUEBELLE (as "BLUEBELL") as advertised in
the ARGOS CATALOGUE 1985 (Spring/Summer)
In North America, Bluebelle was sold on card both as a Flat Foot and later as a Concave Foot Pony. She was also re released as a collector pony through a mail order around 1986.
Though she was sold in the UK, Bluebelle the pony never made a comic appearance. The only clue to her existance was a mention in the My Little Pony factfile, but even here she was misrepresented. Her name here was spelt 'Bluebell' (without the final '-e') and she was shown with pink hair instead of lavender.
CONCAVE FOOT BLUEBELLE: 1983 (Store) and 1986 (Mail Order, USA)